It’s snowing in Maine; you may have heard about it. Our much-anticipated first real storm of winter arrived with notably less snow than advertised. I’m listening to sleet pelt the yurt as I write, but I’m not even thinking of complaining about the wintry mix replacing the two feet of snow we hoped for. There’s snow on the ground. Our sled and snow tube are primed. We’re loading up on Dutch babies and heading outside.
The animals are all tucked into deep straw and shavings in the barn (don’t worry—only Honey and the chickens have shavings). This is the first year we’ve leaned so heavily on the big barn. Because we didn’t have time to build any shelters before the weather turned, we’ve been bringing the whole flock inside each night, and for each storm. They’re pretty unhappy—we’re greeted with icy stares each time we walk in when they’ve been grounded for weather.
One of our big inside projects this winter, along with finishing the yurt, is planning barns for spring building. We typically offer a seasonally-oriented shelter for the animals in each of their pastures, with the exception of rotational grazing, and our first priority is laying out winter shelters. Farm animals are outside creatures and are much happier and healthier when given the option to seek protection from the weather when they want or need it. This gives them more freedom to move and, more critically, much more fresh air. It’s a more natural way for them to live, which is important to us.
If you’re local and handy, or just game, we’ll be looking for extra help in the spring for barter or pay!